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Scottish councils will not be able to levy tourist tax before at least 2021

19 March 2019 by
Scottish councils will not be able to levy tourist tax before at least 2021

No councils in Scotland will have the power to implement a tourist tax until at least 2021, tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop has told the Scottish Tourism Alliance conference.

The Scottish government made a concession to consult and legislate on locally determined tourism taxes as part of its budget negotiations earlier this year.

But the MSP told the conference: "Firstly, there will be no compulsion for local authorities to implement a tourism tax.

"Secondly, the requirement for the Scottish parliament to consider legislation means that there will be no tourism tax levied in 2019 or indeed the 2020 season, as consultation, legislation and indeed implementation if any council wants to introduce a tax, will take some time."

Edinburgh has been the most vocal council calling for legislation that would allow it to levy a visitor fee. The authority has consulted on a £2 a night or 2% charge, applied throughout the year to all forms of accommodation, including short-term lets, with a seven-night cap.

The capital city's bid has been met with opposition from the hospitality industry, with UKHospitality warning that a levy could cost £45m in lost business.

Hyslop acknowledged the difficulties faced by hospitality operators. She said: "Yes, we have seen success in terms of the growth of visitor spend, which saw an increase of more than 3% last year, but this is not commensurate with the growth in visitor numbers. which means our visitors are not spending as much when they are here.

"The international market is incredibly competitive and we need to continue to work extremely hard to draw visitors to Scotland and ensure they have an outstanding experience when they are here.

"I recognise that this remains a challenge and that the impressive headline figures may not accurately reflect the challenges that Scotland's businesses, your businesses, are facing to remain competitive, particularly from increasing overheads and the impact of a weaker pound on costs of food and drink."

Tourist tax could cost Scotland £175m, says UKHospitality >>

Details of Edinburgh tourist tax revealed alongside consultation launch >>

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